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  • Bill and Betty Ann Blanchard received their Volunteer of the Month awards from Voice assistant editor Zach Sparks.
    Photo by Dylan Roche
    Bill and Betty Ann Blanchard received their Volunteer of the Month awards from Voice assistant editor Zach Sparks.

The Blanchards Keep History Alive At Hancock’s Resolution

Zach Sparks
View Bio
September 18, 2018

Not many nonprofits offer volunteers the chance to examine muskets from the Revolutionary War or touch 19th-century wedding dresses, but Hancock’s Resolution presents a tangible link to the past. For Betty Ann Blanchard and her husband, Bill Blanchard, that history is especially important because it involves their ancestors.

Both Betty Ann (an 11th-generation Hancock) and Bill (whose fifth-great-grandfather, John Lawton, married Elizabeth Hancock) got involved with Hancock’s Resolution in 1969 — Bill because he likes to explore history and Betty Ann because her family wanted to preserve the Pasadena landmark.

“It’s a unique experience for those who are studying history because it was built before George Washington was president,” Betty Ann said, referring to the stone house built in 1785. “There is no electricity, no plumbing, and there is enough acreage that kids can get a sense of agriculture.”

As an employee with the Department of Recreation and Parks, Bill spends about nine hours a week at the site — repairing stairs, gates and fences, among other tasks — but most of his time at Hancock’s is volunteered. Bill takes pictures at events and makes photo galleries for the website. That site is run by Betty Ann, a retired GIS analyst for the Department of Natural Resources.

In addition to being the webmaster, Betty Ann works behind the scenes to make several events successful, from the pet parade in October to the Mother’s Day tea. Her most recent task was planning Family and Friends Day on September 16, when about 65 descendants and friends of the Hancocks, Cooks and Calverts convened to talk and observe artifacts and photos selected by Betty Ann.

On display were Jacobsville Elementary class pictures from 1956 to 1957 courtesy of former principal Herb Sappington, who died in July.

Bill also maintains family artifacts by finding measurements and taking photos for a database. Among those items, he said guests especially admire Brown Bess, a musket that Stephen Hancock owned during the Revolutionary War.

The Blanchards each have their favorite aspects of their work.

“I like seeing the mules and horses do the spring planting,” Bill said. “It’s also incredible how many come for Family Day.”

Betty Ann uses the family records for research, supplying docents with information about the important role of women. She’s also trying to determine how descenders made some of their favorite recipes, like walnut cake and chocolate Easter eggs.

Both volunteers said they never know when they will be asked to do something, and they have to be able to adapt, but they are proud of their contribution to the historic site. Aided by fellow dedicated volunteers like Jim Morrison and Dianne Feeney, they are preserving the past.

“Everyone in the family feels it’s important to save these artifacts and pass these stories on to kids,” Betty Ann said. “It’s a lot of work and somebody has to sit down and do it.”

Anne Arundel County owns Hancock’s Resolution and provides some funding for maintenance, but much of the upkeep and fundraising is done by volunteers. To learn more, visit www.historichancocksresolution.org and click the “Get Involved” header.

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